ORLANDO – After a heartbreaking overtime loss at the buzzer to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley’s message to the team was simple: “This one stings.”
In order to remedy that pain, Orlando’s head coach directed his squad to learn from their mistakes, get back into the lab at the AdventHealth Training Center, and prepare for the next opponent on the docket.
The Magic (2-8) will look to bounce back from that tough defeat when they host the Houston Rockets (1-9) on Monday at 7:15 p.m. ET.
Houston has struggled out of the gate this season, losing its last six games. Heading into Sunday night’s game slate, the Rockets held the league’s second-worst net rating (-9.4) with a bottom four defense (115.4) to go along with a bottom three offense (106.0).
Houston has been unable to limit teams in transition, giving up 21.9 points off turnovers per game, the most in the association, along with 19.5 fast break points per contest, second most in the league. The Rockets have also struggled to protect the rim, giving up 54.2 points in the paint per game, a bottom five mark in the NBA.
That’s certainly an area the Magic will look to exploit on Monday night. Orlando punished Sacramento down low on Saturday, recording 78 paint points in that affair. Since inserting center Bol Bol into the starting lineup on Oct. 28, the Magic are averaging the third most paint points per contest, putting up 56.4 per outing.
“It’s part of the reason for starting that group,” said Mosley. “Their ability to punish at the rim…That length is something that we’re going to continue to hone in on and make sure we continue to use to our advantage.”
On defense, Orlando will need to limit Houston’s backcourt duo of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., who are each averaging slightly over 19 points per game.
KEY STATS: Heading into this past draft night, the Magic kept their cards close to their vest. As a result of their secretive nature, media pundits were unable to land on a consensus of who the No. 1 overall pick would be. There were those who pointed to Chet Holmgren, who ultimately went No. 2 to Oklahoma City, some had Jabari Smith Jr., who landed in Houston at No. 3, and others correctly predicted Paolo Banchero, who Orlando selected first overall.
While there was room for debate at the time, Banchero is currently making a clear-cut case that he’s without a doubt the best player in his class.
Along with leading all rookies in points (22.9), rebounds (8.5), and assists (3.6) per game, the Duke alum continues to put himself in rare company with stat lines that few others in league history have put up before.
His career-high 33-point, 16-rebound outing against the Kings kept in line with that trend. The 19-year-old forward became just the second teenager in NBA history to record 30-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a game. The other? LeBron James, who at 18 years old, notched 33 and 16 on Nov. 29, 2003 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
IN AND OUT: Cole Anthony (right internal oblique tear), Markelle Fultz (fractured big left toe), Gary Harris (left knee injury recovery), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), and Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot) are out for the Magic.
For Houston, Green (left knee contusion) and Smith (illness) are probable, TyTy Washington Jr. (left knee sprain) is questionable, and Darius Days (G League – Two-Way), Bruno Fernando (left knee soreness), Trevor Hudgins (G League – Two-Way), and Jae’Sean Tate (right ankle soreness) are out.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “For me, it’s just being aggressive from the start. Any time that I’m aggressive from the beginning of the game to the end, that’s when I play at my best.” – Bol, who’s making an early case for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.
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